Katelyn Morrison selected for prestigious UN fellowship
Northwestern alumnus Katelyn Morrison was selected by United Nations Academic Impact as one of 14 college students at the University of Pittsburgh to participate in an elite program created to foster a culture of intellectual social responsibility.
Morrison will be working at the university where she is currently a junior.
“I was in shock that I got selected,” she said. “But I was very excited when I found out.
“This year over 7,000 undergraduates applied [but] only 6 percent of the applicants were selected.”
“The application process asked about what kind of project I would do with the fellowship and how it makes a social impact,” she said, “but in terms of who they chose to select, I’m not quite sure what they were looking for.”
The UN has identified 17 goals as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promoting a healthy, peaceful planet for people today and in the future.
The United Nations Academic Impact and Millennium Campus Network launched the Millennium Fellowship in 2018.
The selective Fellowship is a semesterlong leadership development program that convenes, challenges, and celebrates student leadership promoting UN goals.
“Our collaboration with MCN [allows] students to demonstrate how [their college studies] can be extended to a greater purpose of common good, lending their strengths to their communities and their world and, in turn, being enriched by them,” said Ramu Damodaran, chief of United Nations Academic Impact.
Morrison will be hosting technical workshops in makerspaces on Pitt’s campus, focusing on local environmental issues and sustainability in developing countries using making, innovating, and entrepreneurship.
These workshops are expected to directly impact over 1,000 people and indirectly impact 30,000 plus people on Pitt’s campus and within the Pittsburgh area.
“Under the guidance of my mentor, Dr. David Sanchez, I am helping facilitate workshops for engineering and nonengineering students on Pitt’s campus,” Morrison said, whose goal is to expose as many students as possible to “innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainability in the Pitt Makerspace.”
“My mantra is to create the things you wish existed,” she stated.
“This has helped guide me through creating the environment that I want to experience and live in.”
Morrison noted there are 13 other fellows on Pitt’s campus who will be conducting their own projects ranging from dental hygiene education for low-income communities to providing feminine products and health education for all.
“Making your ideas a reality can be difficult at times especially if you don’t know how to design a prototype,” explained Morrison. “There has to be passion and a problem behind all this tinkering and prototyping. That is where sustainability concepts and my fellowship project comes in.”
Sam Vaghar, executive director and co-founder of MCN commented on her selection.
“I congratulate Katelyn Morrison for bold commitment to strengthen community and help make UN goals reality,” Vaghar said. “On every campus and in every community, student leaders are making positive contributions while committed to our ethos of empathetic, humble, inclusive leadership.”
Morrison is majoring in computing and information.
“I am also completing sustainability certificate (similar to a minor) through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation,” she said.
Morrison attributes her interest in science in large part to her growing up in the district.
“Northwestern fostered an environment that encouraged innovation, willpower, and science,” she said. “All of the knowledge I gained [there] has continuously been beneficial and useful throughout my time at Pitt.”
She had high praise for the cadre of Northwestern teachers who inspired her as a high school student.
“While at Northwestern, I was exposed to many topics such as environmental science with Mr. Sunday, computer science with Mr. Biese, and designing/prototyping through Mr. Smoyer and Mr. Dynda,” she said.
“I was even exposed to some higher-level topics through Mr. Moyer in Science Olympiad that are taught in college.
“With guidance from Mrs. DiGiacomo, I learned how to write up lesson plans and lead a class full of students. All of the experiences I had while at Northwestern have been very beneficial when I trained other students in workshops, I designed last year at my on-campus job in one of the Pitt Makerspaces.”
This year, students applied from 1,209 campuses across 135 nations.
Fellows were selected from 69 campuses across 16 nations to participate.
Leading campus cohorts were selected from every region of the globe.
“United Nations Academic Impact [was created] to foster a culture of intellectual social responsibility,” Damodaran said. “Emerging leaders need requisite training, connections, and recognition to deepen their social impact as undergraduates and throughout their careers. Partnering with UNAI enables us to engage more students, providing a powerful framework to help them convene, take action, and elevate the important contributions they make.”